Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Eat Vegan this Christmas!

I've put together some yummy recipes which are freely available on the web. I have tried the mince pies and the Chestnut Paté en Crôute and they are both lovely. I'll be trying the boozy ice cream soon...

Vegan Mince Pies

If you would like to make your own mincemeat this makes enough for four mince pies:

50g (2oz) Mixed Dried Fruit
100g (4oz) Dessert Apples, peeled and chopped (coxes are ideal)
Quarter of a teaspoon each of Ground ginger, Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Cloves
2 teaspoons of brandy

Cook the apple in a very little water until soft. Remove from heat and stir in dried fruit, spices and brandy. Leave to cool. (Recipe from Solihull Animal Aid).

I'll be having this on Christmas Day! We tried it and it blew me away it was so delicious! I love Chestnuts!

Chestnut Paté en Crôute

Big Boozy Yule Cake

Boozy Vegan Ice Cream More booze! Red wine and brandy this time.

If you see something you like and the temperature is for a gas oven and you have electric click here to convert.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Meditate your way to Christmas calm

During the festive season or holidays we all need to take time out to relax. We should do this anyway as relaxation is what Christmas is about, but many of us will spend the time running after our families, wrapping presents, shopping and cooking. It’s sometimes hard to remember to keep calm when it’s Christmas Eve and you haven’t managed to find time to shop for presents or buy the Turkey.

While all this is going on and you’re switching off from work it’s the best time to try to meditate. The best time to meditate is officially when you are fully dressed and able to sit on a chair with no distractions, but I don’t think this suits everyone. Trying to switch off during the day actually meant relaxation didn’t come to me easily and I became frustrated as a result.

Then I tried it last thing at night before I went to sleep. It was also difficult at first but I listened to a man guide me through the Alexander Technique of tensing all your muscles one by one and letting go. I focussed on an image of a wall of colourful wool in bookshelves. I noticed how I felt after taking deep breaths. I felt amazing.

To be honest I didn’t expect it to work so I tried this a few times and then forgot about it. I thought I would just remember to breathe deeply whenever I was stressed. Which was wrong of course.

Then I was lucky to meet someone who gave me her meditation CD. It was brilliant and I found it worked fantastically well on me. It took me a few attempts to get over the feeling that I was doing something weird, then I was away. I remember the first time I felt a heightened sense of calmness. I felt high but without the sense I was out of control of my body, and of course I hadn’t used any substances.

If you are new to meditation I would suggest trying The Meditation Podcast. The voices in it are incredibly soothing and lull you into relaxation mode just before you begin the meditation. There is a wide choice of podcasts but I found the ‘positive thoughts’ one to be most beneficial to me. When I first listened to it two years ago I found myself imagining myself walking with a book under my arm in a wonderful tree-lined park. I wondered whether I desired reading or to write a book. In any case I resolved to write more and read which led me to a writing residential where I made my decision to become a journalist indirectly.

Self-actualisation is a very powerful process. When you listen to this podcast you will imagine yourself as you want to be. In the following years you will find yourself subconsciously taking little steps along the pathway to get to where you want to be.

Powerful and relaxing at the same time. So choose a time in the day which suits you (take your iPod in the bath if you have to) and practice meditating. It’ll come after a while and you’ll feel amazing when it does.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Book Review: Make me I'm yours...Christmas

It's a week before Christmas. You're shopping for presents after maybe making for your shop/s, fulfilling Christmas orders with one hand while talking to your Aunt Maude on the phone with the other. It's probably manic. I know this. But.

This book is so cute and amazing I just had to tell you about it. If you popped into a shop you could buy it full price if you are too late to order from Amazon or look for it in your local library. There is plenty of time to just squeeze in some making for yourself or for personal presents. You could make snowflakes out of white tissue paper to stick on tealight holders for example. Your children could even do this.

There is a nice mixture of last minute small baking projects such as cupcakes and biscuits which are beautifully decorated and would be lovely to make on Christmas eve. There are a couple of cards in there which are very simple and look great. It's a small book but the quality of the projects more than make up for this.

On the long term project side there is a quite simply stunning white stocking covered in gold beads which would work well as an adult stocking to put at the end of your bed! There is also a felt version for the kids.

The instructions at the end of the book are very concise but simple and easy-to-follow. I love the style of this book. It was a real gem waiting for me in the library and thought I would share with you.

You can buy it here from Amazon. But hurry!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Lavender Hearts

It's been a few weeks since I blogged here. There has been a lot going on. Studying journalism at home means there is always something challenging on my 'to do' list so I've made sure I've made time to relax and sew:

I started these lavender hearts on my birthday at the start of October then November happened with flu and a cold and plenty of minor illnesses getting in my way! December is feeling like a much more positive month and despite RSI in my right shoulder from tweeting too much on my blackberry I've managed to knit too! It's a good job I'm ambidextrous! (You will need to alter the knife and fork round if you ever lay the table for me!) This is the man hot water bottle cover version of my pink one here.

(All my photos are smaller than usual in an attempt to disguise the rain induced darkness!)

I will post before New Year I'm sure but I will closing my shops in about a week or so and won't open them again until Tuesday 3rd January 2012.

I've had a wonderful year craft-wise. I've finally sold quite well this year although of course I want to up the stakes next year and identify the handmade side of my shop which has sold and make more of it.

This is the year I made the first steps along the road to becoming a journalist. It's been scary at times and I'm sure the road ahead will bend sharply sometimes but I have no regrets after investing what felt like a lot of money in a journalism diploma. It's always a risk when you are struggling financially to do that.

It's been a year of conflicting demands at home and disappointments. Happiness and hard work. Recognition and sometimes ignorance of how hard I'm working. The downside of working at home is, of course, that when you're offline no-one knows just how hard you are working. But I hope you recognise that work and enjoy my blog/s and shops!

There will be more blog posts on here over the festive period. But for now Peace and love. Enjoy your christmas!
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